Never too late the realize the brilliance of this line!
I started in this hobby around 4 years ago in the fall of 2008. I still remember trying Frederic Malle and being underwhelmed by Musc Ravageur (MR) and French Lover (FL). I thought both were unique, but also that MR was gross and FL was boring.
The line didn't stand out to me when I first tried it because, well, it was different, but so what? What was the point?
Four years later though, now I get it. There isn't a single fragrance that doesn't make a statement. Every fragrance has a message or purpose, which I suppose is subjective, but the messages are at least obvious to me now. They're kind of like inside jokes for fragrance-heads (not to mention that each fragrance also smells absolutely amazing to me now).
French Lover has no citrus, no flowers, no calone, no vanilla, very little musk and nothing fancy. It smells like trees and dirt. It just smells like a man, and that's all it's supposed to smell like! Funny how most fragrances are designed to smell like something otherworldly while French Lover is just the opposite.
Bigarade Concentree is a citrus overload, arguably the most citrus-intense fragrance on the market. It's almost ONLY citrus. And yet, it's dirty.... and yet.... there's no musk in it! A dirty citrus fragrance with no musk (the dirtiness comes from the cumin and cardamom).
Musc Ravageur is a filthy gourmande; 'nuff said. It's like every dirty, dark, fecal, sexual and human note known to man was swirled into one fragrance with a dollop of vanilla, leather and spices. If it weren't for the vanilla, some would gasp in shock and disgust when they smell it. But somehow the balance works perfectly.
Geranium pour Monsieur is an entire male fragrance showcasing the minty and floral aspects of geranium, without the use of rose (whereas geranium is usually just a side-kick to rose notes). I've never smelled anything like it.
The list goes on and on, but hopefully you see what I mean. Each fragrance does something that's barely or never been done before.
Anyway, consider me smitten with this line.
What do you guys think?
Last edited by L'Aventurier; 6th December 2012 at 02:42 AM.
Never too late the realize the brilliance of this line!
I too also came around to Frederic Malle's scents over the years as my collection grew and I realized the construction and depth that took place in each fragrance.
With that said, however, I still can not endure Musc Ravageur. There is just something in there that does not agree with my skin and all I get is a very potent fecal smell that unfortunately projects. Again, nothing else in the Frederic Malle line that I have sampled thus far has done this except for Musc Ravageur.
Summer 2013 Top 10 :
1. Creed Aventus
2. Dior Homme Sport (2012)
3. L'Eau Bleue D'Issey
4. Bleu de Chanel
5. Acqua dio Gio Essenza
6. Strange Invisible Perfumes - Peloponnesian
7. Tom Ford Neroli Portofino
8. Diesel Green Masculine
9. Terre d'Hermes
10. Guerlain Homme
I agree with you on the quality and interest of most compositions of the line. Yet, for one reason or another, I ended up owning less of Malle than of other lines. To my nose French lover is sublime in the opening, exactly as you say. And yet the drydown has some molecule to which I must be hypersensitive, because it smells too sharp and looses the quality that made the top great. MR has a musky opening, but then it become spicy and doesn't feel to me in the same club as, say, Musc Koublai Khan or Absolue pour le Soir.
The one that has my unconditional love is Vetiver extraordinaire, the freshest vetiver around.
Vetiver extraordinaire is incredible
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I agree: Vetiver Extraordinaire is superb. It's what got me full-force into this fragrance hobby, too.
I urge you to try ANGELIQUES SOUS LA PLUIE.
I'm with those who find Vetiver Extraordinaire to be a standout among the billions of vetiver-centered fragrances and I'm a huge fan of Malle in general but I agree also the Iso E Super is playing a major role in a bunch of these fragrances. I'm personally not bothered at all but I see how someone can be somewhat turned off by this aspect. What about the most feminine ones? Une Fleur De Cassie is a monster release as well as Carnal Flower...
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OP, I too like the quirks FM puts in his line.
Today I am wearing Noir Epices; an Oriental without vanilla?!
Portrait of a Lady is one of the sexiest frags I know of.
Vetiver Extraordinaire is the truest vetiver I have had the pleasure to wear, and I will wear vetiver EO neat.
Carnal Flower turned me on to wearing florals as a man.
I haven't even tried them all but look forward to it.
Last edited by Nosebud; 6th December 2012 at 08:23 AM. Reason: stupid phone
I always felt that Malle fragrances were technically brilliant, but somehow cold. Not cold as in mint or ice, but cold as in technique without emotion. Like a Chopin etude that has been perfectly quantized and totally normalized (i.e., removal of all dynamics) and played by a cyborg.
At least that applies to the following for me:
Dans Tes Bras
Noir Epices (love this!)
Une Fleur de Cassie
Le Parfum de Therese
Somewhere in the middle:
The rest I've not smelled or don't recall well enough to categorize.
Iris Pallida 50ml
Ungaro I 75ml
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The brilliance probably lies in Frederic Malle's decision to round up some of the most talented noses still at work today and giving them the budget and freedom to craft technically sound commercial fragrances even if they may not please the aesthetics preferred by the masses. I see Malles as nothing more than a collection of individual efforts. Brilliant as some of them may be, when taken as a whole it comes across rather clinical and cold especially without a unifying house style or philosophical bent exemplified by niche players such as Serge Lutens or Histoires de Parfums.
Just my 2 cents. The rest are free.
let me give my female view i have tested : Carnal Flower, Lys Mediterranee,Le Parfum de Therese, L eau d Hiver, Une fleur de Cassie, Noire epices
the most stunning opening, and most original of them to me is Noire Epices!!
the one i would like to own is L eau d Hiver, its so so amazing!!! so beautiful and wearable, different from any category i have in my wardrobe....
and all are above average by beauty!
A tremendous line indeed. Of course you listed none of my favorites from it like Portrait of a Lady, Une Fleur de Cassie, Vetiver Extraordinaire, Angeliques Sous La Pluie, Une Rose and Carnal Flower, but the line as a whole is indeed extremely strong, IMO.
Current Top Favorites:
1) Portrait of a Lady original formula (EdP Frédéric Malle)
2) Giorgio for Men vintage/V.I.P. for Men (Giorgio Beverly Hills)
3) Dia Man vintage edt (Amouage)
4) Anat Fritz Original Formula and Classical (Anat Fritz) - tie
4) Lalfeorosa (O'driù) - tie
6) Les Nombres d'Or Vetyver (Mona di Orio)
7) Captain vintage (Molyneux)
8) Tzora (Anat Fritz)
9) Javanese Patchouli (Zegna) - tie
9) Monsieur de Givenchy vintage (Givenchy) - tie
9) Coeur de Vetiver Sacré (L'Artisan) - tie
9) Polo vintage (Ralph Lauren) - tie
9) Patou pour Homme Privé (Jean Patou) - tie
9) Oud Shamash (The Different Company) - tie
Agree with all of the above
He is a self professed "publisher" of scents and each piece of work is an individual. I think it is wonderful collection and I'm looking forward to the couple currently in the works.
I also think Malle is one of the houses that will last well into this century. BTW, altho the first decade was a collection of individual pieces to build a foundation for the line, I think his now ongoing working relationship with Ropion is defining a house style, if not in a 'Guerlinade' or 'Lutensian' way, but in a more abstract approach - certainly his absolute fanatic desire to represent florals in some of the perfumes and home fragrances, and also a sort of whimsy about what to do next. He was laughing about one they were working on that they put on the shelf because 'only 200 people would buy it', and then really laughing about the next one up saying his marketing team all wanted it before Xmas and he and Ropion just figured, noooo, maybe Spring - not happy yet. He was more excited about the new candle and a couple of new fragrances being adapted for the 'spray guns' . . . hilarious.
Talking to him made me think of Douglas Adams: "I love deadlines. I love that 'whooshing' sound they make as they fly past."
Lol. What a whimsical perspective! Thanks for sharing, Mr R.
The line encompasses a couple of my absolute favorites. Portrait of a Lady is stunning and L'eau D'Hiver is fantastic. As much as I wanted to like everything in the line there were some that disappointed. That being said I think everything Dominique Ropion has done in the line has been a huge success.
My take is that none of the line are 'average'. There is some hyperbole around a few though that isn't justified by the actual juice. Portrait of a Lady has genius within. I just wish there was more to choose from -- Ive seen the same ones for years now. Some stores are beginning to limit their stock to the most popular also, like they are with Creed.
I've tested all the scents in the line barring French Lover, and my experience has been chequered. Whilst I absolutely love Le Parfum de Therese and own it in FB, I sort of blow hot and cold about my like/dislike for the rest.
I bought Musc Ravageur in FB last year and I thought I absolutely loved it, but a year later, I realise I've only ever worn it a couple of times and have considered selling it on numerous occasions. I got a sample of Une Rose and I keep vacillating between love and indifference. Sometimes it seems like the most gorgeous rose and sometimes the truffle accord overwhelms me and puts me off. I have been this close from buying a FB of Portrait of a Lady, but then I remember a certain raspberry note and that makes me change me mind. I love Lys Mediterranee on some days, whilst on others I find it too linear and too salty. Carnal Flower seems like the most amazing scent to have ever been created, but then at times it also feels like it can't hold a candle to Fracas. And there are some which i simply don't care for - L'eau d'Hiver, En Passant, Cologne Bigarde et al.
Very chequered experience.
I kind of like the restrained and modest approach that the FM range has, whether it's on purpose or not by Mr. Malle.
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As for Fleur de Cassie, what a challenge to wear! I haven't smelled such a jolie-laide fragrance since Mitsouko It's one of my favorites, even though I see it as an intellectual/sensual challenge at times.
Carnal Flower is a triumph too, but I've only smelled it once, so can't go much further in discussing it.
You're right that there seems to be good doses of Iso E Super in a few Frederic Malle fragrances, namely: Bigarade Concentree, Angeliques sous la Pluie and French Lover, but like you, they're at comfortable levels for me. That's saying a lot considering that I'm not a fan of Iso E Super. For example, Poivre Samarcande sometimes grates on my nose, while Terre d'Hermes EdT is just unwearable for me.
Personally I like the idea that Malle's fragrances are so different from each other. And I'm not at all worried that they take their time to release new fragrances rather than having so many that a person can't begin to keep up with them. Actually, they were some of the first fragrances I ever sampled. As with the OP, I strayed off to other things, but they still lingered in the back of my mind.
Finally I broke down and bought L'eau d'Hiver. I consider it unisex, and something I always turn to when I want to keep things low-key and welcoming, and can't figure what else to wear.
Maybe not to everyone's taste, but my favorite of the line so far.
And perhaps the total opposite of French Lover, which I love as well.